Centre may implement Nashik foodgrain plan thoughout India

MUMBAI: Impressed by the success of the pilot project launched at the tribal Surgana village, Nashik district in June 2007, the Centre is now considering the extension of the home delivery system of foodgrains under the public distribution scheme (PDS) throughout the country in a phased manner.

Food and civil supplies minister Rameshchandra Bang said in view of the successful pilot project, it has now been decided that the scheme will be implemented in one tehsil in each district. "It was a successful pilot project. We will be implementing it in one tehsil in each district in the first week of March. The scheme will be introduced in all tribal villages across the state,'' Bang told TOI.

According to reports, taking cognisance of the scheme now known as `Nashik__ pattern in food distribution,' the Centre has, in principle, decided to introduce the scheme in select villages across the country. "We have given specific details of the scheme to the food ministry headed by Sharad Pawar. We have been told that the Centre has agreed, in principle, to implement the scheme in select villages,'' a senior official of the PDS said.

Alarmed by the rampant irregularities and corruption in the scheme, Nashik additional collector Shekhar Gaikwad undertook a survey of all the PDS shops in the entire district. He found that despite the presence of several schemes to ensure that the poor get foodgrains under the PDS, there were difficulties in providing foodgrains directly to the beneficiaries. "Plenty of food is available, it's distribution among the destitute is difficult. Forty to 60% of foodgrains does not reach the beneficiaries. In addition, it was found that weekly transportation of foodgrains to the fair price shops and subsequently to the beneficiaries was not possible,'' Gaikwad said in his report.

He drafted a new strategy with the objective to bring complete transparency in the PDS. Under the strategy, every beneficiary would get the quota of foodgrains, there would be food security for the community, the existing monitoring system would be strengthened and organised black marketing of foodgrains would be stopped completely.

Then it was decided that foodgrains would be distributed once in three months or six months or a year, instead of distributing them once or twice in a month. They were to be distributed in the form of standardised sacks of 50 kg each, after an inspection carried out by the supply inspector. Foodgrains are distributed on a pre-decided date and in the presence of officials. "We are delivering the foodgrains at the homes of the beneficiaries. There is complete transparency in the entire process,'' Gaikwad added.

He said sustainability of the scheme is in-built because it guarantees the delivery of foodgrains to the needy at the right time. According to him, the new scheme will change the face of the PDS. The scheme was first launched in Surgana village and was later extended to 240 villages in Nashik district. "It benefited nearly 22,496 families. We distributed 29,838 quintals of food grains,'' he said.